His brother Sergey Ivanovitch advised him to read the theological
works of Homiakov. Levin read the second volume of Homiakov's
works, and in spite of the elegant, epigrammatic, argumentative
style which at first repelled him, he was impressed by the
doctrine of the church he found in them. He was struck at first
by the idea that the apprehension of divine truths had not been
vouchsafed to man, but to a corporation of men bound together by
love--to the church. What delighted him was the thought how much
easier it was to believe in a still existing living church,
embracing all the beliefs of men, and having God at its head, and
therefore holy and infallible, and from it to accept the faith in
God, in the creation, the fall, the redemption, than to begin
with God, a mysterious, far-away God, the creation, etc. But
afterwards, on reading a Catholic writer's history of the church,
and then a Greek orthodox writer's history of the church, and
seeing that the two churches, in their very conception
infallible, each deny the authority of the other, Homiakov's
doctrine of the church lost all its charm for him, and this
edifice crumbled into dust like the philosophers' edifices.
All that spring he was not himself, and went through fearful
moments of horror.
"Without knowing what I am and why I am here, life's impossible;
and that I can't know, and so I can't live," Levin said to
"In infinite time, in infinite matter, in infinite space, is
formed a bubble-organism, and that bubble lasts a while and
bursts, and that bubble is Me."
It was an agonizing error, but it was the sole logical result of
ages of human thought in that direction.
This was the ultimate belief on which all the systems elaborated
by human thought in almost all their ramifications rested. It
was the prevalent conviction, and of all other explanations Levin
had unconsciously, not knowing when or how, chosen it, as anyway
the clearest, and made it his own.
But it was not merely a falsehood, it was the cruel jeer of some
wicked power, some evil, hateful power, to whom one could not